At Work

Overcoming Insecurity for the Sake of Your Vocation

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The idols of power, success, and confidence in one’s abilities are familiar in the workplace. What about insecurity, the flip-side to these idols?

It’s strange to think of someone treating their anxieties as idols. People don’t consciously worship their lack of confidence. So how is insecurity and idol? More importantly, how does insecurity impact our ability to serve God through our vocations?

How Is Insecurity an Idol?

In his book Counterfeit Gods, one of the definitions Tim Keller gives idolatry is anything other than God that we look to for meaning, value, and significance. He writes,

If anything becomes more fundamental than God to your happiness, meaning in life, and identity, than it is an idol.

Anything can be an idol. But people don’t usually find their meaning and significance in their insecurities, do they?

Insecurity is an idol covering up another more familiar idol: self.

Insecurity leads us to focus on ourselves, on the attributes or skills we lack. In an article entitled “The Sin of Insecurity,” Dr. Jeremy Pierre writes,

We care more about the attributes we think make us worthy before people than we do about what makes us worthy before the Almighty.

Insecurity makes us believe our talents determine our meaning and value in life, instead of the truth revealed in Scripture regarding our significance. It causes us to misplace the source of our worth. Pierre continues:

Insecurity shows that we are still in some way believing that our justification is based upon your own attributes and accomplishments. . . .But finding confidence in those things is a direct rival to finding confidence in Christ.

Another rival to finding confidence in Christ is searching for our confidence in the approval of others.

The problem with looking to others for approval is that sometimes they don’t see what God sees. You may have God-given gifts, talents, and skills unaffirmed by others, but that doesn’t mean you don’t possess them.

Looking to others can also be dangerous because it causes us to disobey God in the pursuit of winning the approval of someone else or saving face in front of them. This is where the idol of insecurity comes into play at work.

Insecurity at Work

The development and use of our God-given gifts and talents inevitably requires risk. We can’t just bury our skills in the ground like the wicked, lazy servant from the parable of the talents. That’s poor stewardship. Instead, we have to take chances like the other two servants and utilize our talents and live out our callings – despite the risk of failure.

If insecurity is your idol, sometimes it’s hard to be bold and take risks at work. It’s easier to cruise along in your comfort zone.

  • Perhaps you don’t take on a project because you feel you lack the skills to carry it out successfully.
  • Maybe you don’t want your colleagues to realize the attributes you lack (or feel you lack), or you don’t want to expose your shortcomings, so you don’t volunteer for assignments.
  • You might be stymied into inaction because you’re insecure about your ability to make decisions.

Knowing how God has gifted you is a step towards overcoming insecurity. It can be a difficult process to discover your gifts, and then to align your gifting with your responsibilities at work, but it’s possible.

Along the way, you can rest secure in the unshakable truths that your significance comes from God, and that he created you with purpose for a purpose, equipping you with unique skills and talents to accomplish all he has called you to carry out.

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  • Sojourner

    Reading about idolatry, lifting anything above the work of our Lord, helps open my eyes. But the seeing and the shedding of my ‘self’ as an idol result from being sanctified by God’s Word through daily reading and study.

    • gregoryayers

      Absolutely. The shedding of our idols – of self or otherwise – is, like sanctification, an ongoing process.

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